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Article

revised by Margaret Barlow

(b Blue Earth, MN, Nov 23, 1894; d Vero Beach, FL, April 20, 1989).

American interior and industrial designer. Deskey gained a degree in architecture and studied painting before working in advertising. From 1922 to 1924 he was head of the art department at Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA. In 1921 and 1925 he made trips to Paris, where he attended the Ecole de la Grande Chaumière and the Académie Colarossi, before returning to New York in 1926 as a champion of modern art and design. In 1926–7 he created the city’s first modern window displays for the Franklin Simon and Saks Fifth Avenue department stores. In 1927 he was joined by the designer Philip Vollmer, and the partnership became Deskey–Vollmer, Inc. (to c. 1929). Deskey expanded into designing interiors, furniture, lamps, and textiles, becoming a pioneer of the Style moderne (as Art Deco was known in America). His earliest model for the interior of an apartment was shown at the American Designers’ Gallery, New York, in ...

Article

(b Kiskorpád, June 3, 1884; d Budapest, Nov 26, 1948).

Hungarian architect, interior and furniture designer, and graphic artist. He studied at the Budapest Imperial Joseph College (diploma 1906) and joined the Fiatalok (‘Young ones’) group, which travelled around Transylvania and Hungary studying vernacular architecture. Dominating his early designs (e.g. the fantasy house ‘Lapis Refugii’, 1908) is a luxuriant Secessionist style relying on Hungarian folk-art motifs. After a study trip to Paris (1909–10) he worked at Béla Lajta’s architectural studio in Budapest (1910–13), designing the interior of the Rózsavőlgyi music store in Szervita Square (1911–12; destr. 1961). The interior space was separated by transparent, vertical screens, while the carved-wood ornamentation was in a stylized version of Biedermeier. In 1913 Kozma organized the Budapest Workshop on the same lines as the Wiener Werkstätte, to produce furniture, domestic textiles and utility goods, and designs for entire apartment and office spaces (see Hungary, Republic of §V 4....

Article

John F. Pile

(b New York, 1894; d New York, June 16, 1944).

American industrial designer. He learnt cabinetmaking in his father’s shop in the Bronx, New York, and then worked as an illustrator of furniture for several New York retail shops. In 1927 he made a trip to Paris and there saw examples of the modernism known subsequently as Art Deco. On his return to America he undertook freelance interior design projects and made custom-built modern furniture for private clients (e.g. end table, c. 1927–9; Rohde family priv. col., see 1981 exh. cat., fig.). In 1929 he opened a design office in New York, concentrating on interior design and developing furniture in the early modernist style. In 1930 he established a relationship with Herman Miller Inc. of Zeeland, MI, a firm that had previously made products imitating various traditional styles. Rohde convinced the firm of the superiority of the ideas of modernism at a time when this direction was virtually unknown in the USA; he developed an extensive line of furniture that combined functional ideas and simplicity of form with decorative details that were characteristically ‘modernistic’. Exotic woods, glass, mirrors and polished metals were used in groups of furniture that were modular or sectional in concept (e.g. dressing-table, ...

Article

Margaret Barlow

Italian designers, active in the USA. Massimo Vignelli (b Milan, 10 Jan 1931; d New York, 27 May 2014) attended the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan (1948–50); the Politecnico, Milan (1950–53); and the School of Architecture, University of Venice (1953–7). He chiefly worked on product and graphic design and corporate identity programmes. In the mid-1950s, while still a student, he designed a series of lighting fixtures for the Venini S.p.A. of Murano, most notably the ‘Fungo’ table lamp (1955; e.g. New York, Cooper-Hewitt Mus.), an original concept in striped glass in which the swelling lampshade and conical base form an integrated unit.

Between 1957 and 1960 he travelled and studied in the USA. In 1957 he married Lella [Elena] Vignelli [née Valle] (b Udine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, 1936). She studied at the School of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (...

Article

Sjarel Ex

(b Zaandijk, May 28, 1885; d Wassenaar, Sept 27, 1977).

Dutch designer and typographer . After working in the tradition of the Arts and Crafts Movement, he came into contact in 1917 with De Stijl, which fundamentally changed the course of his work. Through Vilmos Huszár and Jan Wils, he met H. P. Berlage, for whom he worked as a draughtsman, and international artists working in typographic design, such as Kurt Schwitters, El Lissitsky and Jan Tschichold. His international importance is based on typographical works, such as those he made between 1923 and 1930 for NKF, the Dutch cable works, and for PTT, the Dutch postal service. His advertisements, inspired by Dada, often used a wide range of typography and could be read as messages, poems or advertising slogans, while being appreciated simply as designs. Zwart was also active as an interior designer; his most successful work in this field was the kitchen (1938) that he designed for the ...